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Manatees, the friendly, gentle aquatic mammals that reside in more tropical climates, are no longer listed on the endangered species list. While the population of these creatures was threatened back in the 1970s. But since the animals were put on the endangered species list, the species has made a “dramatic turnaround” in population. And because of that the federal government was proud to announce that Florida’s manatees are no longer listed on the endangered species list.
Now the West Indian manatee will be considered a threatened species. Although it is not safe in the wild without human protection, this is a vast improvement over being an endangered species at risk of going extinct.
However, many animal and environmental groups said that the federal announcement from the US Fish and Wildlife Service is premature and relinquishes the protection that has gotten the manatee population back up in the first place.
Although officials claim that the manatee’s “downlisting” will not change how it is protected, they say the move shows that the protection measures are working.
Manatees were put on the endangered list in March 1967.
“While there is still more work to be done to fully recover manatee populations, particularly in the Caribbean, manatee numbers are increasing and we are actively working with partners to address threats,” Jim Kurth, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s acting director, said in a statement.
This announcement came after Florida reported counting more than 6,000 manatees in their natural habitat three years in a row. Back in the 1970s only a few hundred manatees existed in the wild. That certainly is marked improvement.
The US Fish and Wildlife Services manages manatee refuges and sanctuaries. These have been instrumental in getting the sea mammal population back up.
When the federal institution announced that it was thinking to change the status of the West Indiana manatee, which includes the population in Florida, the public was outraged. Students sent in drawings and letters to the officials begging the government to continue protecting the manatee in the wild.
Christina Martin, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation believes this change is long over due. Her organization represents Florida residents who banded together to form the Save Crystal River group.
“I am glad the federal government is finally formally acknowledging what its experts first recognized one decade ago: The manatee is on the mend and no longer in danger of extinction,” Martin said in a statement.
Nevertheless, critics are outspoken about the change in the manatee’s status.
Congressman Vern Buchanan from Florida blasted the Fish and Wildlife Service, calling the change a “huge disappointment.”
“The decision to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act threatens the survival of the manatee, one of Florida’s most beloved animals,” Buchanan said. “It needs to be reversed.”
Other opponents to “downlisting” the status of the manatee or “sea cows,” include the Save the Manatee Club. They claim scientific evidence is lacking in this change. They organization also worries that these regulations should not happen during the Trump administration.
“We believe this is a devastating blow to manatees,” Executive Director Patrick Rose said in a statement.
Do you think this is a good or bad change for manatees?
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